Amris, Derdrick and Jotondor slept through the night in the old Magus’s keep. They awoke to a loud crash as the tables that Derdrick and Jotondor were sleeping on crumbled and gave way. As they looked about they noticed that the furniture that had been preserved was now showing its true age. Also the small orchard in the center of the building was now barren and empty.
Amris prepared his spells for the day and the other two gathered their supplies. Soon they ventured outside. Amris and Derdrick reminded Jotondor that they had held up their part of the bargain and he had promised to help them locate Kell. Amris also asked Jotondor if the help they provided was also worth a spell of restoration. Jotondor conceded and produced a vile that Amris quickly drank and was overjoyed to see his feet grow back.
Soon they were greeted by three figures emerging from the mist. Two walked on all fours and the third appeared to be humanoid. Soon they recognized the two as the shadow wolfs and the third as Kell. Kell appeared to be exhausted, but in good health. The two shadow wolfs appeared to be injured and battle worn. One of them had the remnants of feathers in its mouth.
They welcomed the three newcomers back. Amris cast heal on the shadow wolf that seemed to be the most injured. Jotondor gathered his things and took off. They asked him which way to go and he replied, wherever they were needed. The wolf that Amris had healed decided to stay with the three companions.
They debated for a little while on which direction to go. They finally decided to head down the main avenue towards the center of the city. While journeying down the boulevard, there was an earthquake which shook the buildings. They moved away from the awning they were under just in time to avoid being hit by falling rubble.
After they had passed many petrified shops and buildings, the wolf came to attention. They moved into the shadows on the side of the street. Amris noticed that there was a small alley on the opposite side that showed signs of life. As they approached, they saw earthen hives in the alley with hundreds of large wingless insects. They were blocked in by four large creatures with tentacles that they recognized as devourers, nightmarish monsters that often fed on corpses in graveyards. One of them was torturing one of the insects that had wings and appeared to be the queen.
They debated on what to do. None of them thought they stood much chance against the devourers, so they snuck past to try to not get eaten themselves.
Continuing on down the main avenue, they came to a small lake in the center of the city. It looked like it had once been a beautiful lake, but was now murky and covered with a thick slime. Also, had overflowed on one end from where the whole city had been tilted. Amris picked up a rock and tossed it in the water. It made an odd “ploop” sound, rather than the usual splash.
Looking out over the lake they saw buildings that were now mostly submerged from where the lake had overflown. On top of one of those buildings they saw a small froglike creature with a tail, and arms who was trapped on its back and seemed to by gasping for breath.
Derdrick waded out to one of the buildings between them and the one the creature was on. The water quickly rose, but luckily he managed to keep his head above the water until he reached the building. He climbed up the side and ran across the roof closer to the creature. There seemed to be about ten feet between the two buildings.
Taking a running start, he jumped, barely falling short of the other building. As soon as he hit the water he realized that something was very wrong. The water provided so little buoyancy that he quickly sank. Feeling about he managed to snag the side of the building just as he reached the bottom of the lake. Fortunately he was very good at holding his breath and was able to climb back up the building before he ran out of air.
He pulled himself up out of the water and went over to the creature who was now barely conscious. He pushed it over to the edge and lifted it into the water. With a splash it disappeared beneath the water.
Now he was in a quandary about what to do. Amris cast Spider Climb on Kell who made his through the shallow area over to the first building. He climbed up and over to the edge close to Derdrick. He tried to freeze part of the water, but did not manage to freeze enough to support Derdrick. He climbed down the side of the building and reached out to Derdrick. Derdrick jumped towards Kell, but managed to clear him completely and grabbed onto the building. They both climbed up and waded back to shore.
Finally they found themselves in the very heart of the city. In front of them was a mountain with ancient dwarven stonework covering the side and a great iron double door about one hundred feet tall and fourty feet wide. There were two giant rings in the doors and four hooks, two on each door. Amris and Kell were amazed and Derdrick felt right at home.
They debated for a while on what to do. Kell mentioned that those hooks looked ones that would normally hold a bar to keep the door closed, but their positions would only make them useful for keeping something in. Finally they decided to open the door and enter.
They found themselves in a room that had no ceiling. There was a hole carved open all the way up to the sky. In front of them, the road descended into a dark cavern. Two flights of stairs ascended above the cavern to a smaller double door. They climbed the stairs. Kell detected necromancy magic on all sided of the door, but none directly through it. The door had no rings or handles, but was covered in iron bands. Derdrick slipped his sword behind one of the bands and used it as a makeshift handle to open the door with.
They slowly entered the massive room. There were three other doors, one for each wall. Inside the room there were four massive pillars that seemed to have been carved in place rather than placed there. They tried to open the door in the left wall, but it was locked. They then tried the door in the right wall and it opened.
They found themselves in a room that was covered in gilt and blue accented carvings. In the center of the room was a massive wooden table. There were two candelabras on the table and a glowing blue shard in the center. Then entire room was immaculately clean and everything in place. At the far end of the table was a dwarven woman with black hair.
She called for them to come closer and they timidly approached. As they passed the candelabra, it lit by itself as well as sconces that were lining the wall. As Kell passed the glowing blue shard on the table he got a funny feeling in his ear.
She smiled at them with an eerie smile and asked what they were doing there. They said that they were just passing through and did not wish to trouble her. She said that she rarely had “guests” there and did not wish them to leave. Amris tried to protest that they needed to go and found himself unable to move, so Kell and Derdrick agreed to sit down.
She called here servants to bring out a meal. Walking, rotting corpses appeared from hidden doors in the wall carrying trays of food. They moved with a strange gait as if they were puppets held up by strings with their heads hanging limply. She took an apple from one of the trays and they noticed maggots crawling through it as she took a bite. They decided not to eat any of the food.
She said that she might kill them and add them to here collection of servants. She said that she finally decided that they would be most useful if they recovered a necklace of hers. It was a golden chain that held a red stone and was strung with pearls. There was a picture carved into the wall that seemed to show the necklace she described hanging around the neck of a woman that looked like her. The necklace had been taken from her and broken. The pearls were scattered around the city. The chain was flung into the lake and she would tell them where the red gem was when the time was right.
Kell asked her if they could have Amris back. She drove a long, sharp fingernail through him and told them to leave.
They quickly grabbed Amris and left. When they got to the first room they found it filled with skeletons on the floor, but none were coming up the steps. Derdrick stepped off the steps and the skeletons did nothing, so they made their way through the skeletons and outside.
Derdrick gave Amris one of the potions of healing and it seemed to revive him. They laid down to rest. They were awaked to skeletons marching by they did nothing and just passed on.
The next morning they made their way away from the stronghold. As they passed by the lake, the creature they had rescued surfaced. It placed a golden chain, which they recognized as the one in the picture, in Derdricks hand. With a splash it disappeared.
Now they really wished they had done something to help those giant insects